On Thursday, February 26th, City College students were among the many that participated in the annual Higher Education Day of Action. Every year, students from all over New York gather together in Albany to lobby their representatives on behalf of their school.
The effort was spearheaded by NYPIRG, who got twenty CCNY students, including three representatives from the Undergraduate Student Government and one faculty member, to make the trek. Their goal: to make higher education more accessible to all. The students lobbied for issues like increased funding to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), the passage of the DREAM Act, and restructuring the faculty program at CUNY and SUNY to open more tenure tracks.
The CUNY system is a point of pride for New York, yet it is notoriously underfunded. Since 2008, Albany has cut over $1.7 billion from higher education, forcing tuition rates to rise and financial aid to fall. The students pushed their legislators to restore funding and some.
The DREAM Act has been a point of contention in Albany. Year after year the Assembly passes the law that would make undocumented students eligible for financial aid only to have it killed in the Senate. But students are hopeful and with enough pressure this could be the year it leaves both houses.
NYPIRG CCNY Project Coordinator Ryan Carson went even further. He and his colleagues brought an additional set of requests to their respective legislators. Those included assistance to homeless students at City College and free tuition.
Executive Vice President of USG Carolina Martinez said of the experience, “I had a great time participating in Higher Education Action Day alongside NYPIRG and Undergraduate Student Senate members. It was my first time attending in the four years I’ve been at CCNY, and it made me wish I had made more of an effort to go in the previous years. I personally had a positive experience in meeting with various elected officials and it was great to share my experiences with them and fellow CUNY and SUNY students.” Her only qualm – “was the amount of CCNY students present. I hope to see more of us out in the future.”
All in all, Higher Education Day of Action was a success. But Martinez is right – more students need to get involved and take action for what they believe in.